New Jobless Claims Fall as White House Predicts Future Job Growth

BY Carolyn O'Hara  February 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM EDT

The number of U.S. workers filing an initial claim for jobless benefits dropped last week. According to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor, initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 43,000 to 440,000 for the week ending Feb. 6. Revised data for the prior week showed 483,000 claims, and analysts had anticipated a smaller decrease.

These jobless reports are closely watched for any signal that the economy might be on the cusp of adding jobs.

The White House also released its annual economic report to Congress Thursday, forecasting an average of 95,000 jobs will be added to the economy each month this year, though it will not be enough to prevent the unemployment rate from remaining high.

Prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, the report, which exceeds 400 pages, provides a snapshot of the steps the administration has taken thus far to heal the ailing economy and makes the case for steps it plans to take in the near and long term. It predicts the economy could grow at a rate of 2.5 percent this year.

The report also devotes three chapters to areas where the president hopes to “rebuild the economy” through reform: education, health care and clean energy.

In a letter to Congress accompanying the report, President Barack Obama again urged them to pass a jobs bill, calling the millions of jobs lost since the recession began a “terrible human tragedy.”

The Democratic leadership in the Senate has put off holding any votes on the jobs bill this week given delays and closings resulting from the major snowstorm that hit the East Coast Tuesday and Wednesday.